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“Be of Good Cheer and Much Faith!”: Gospel Centennial in Scandinavia, 1950

By: Ardis E. Parshall - August 15, 2013

In the United States and perhaps in Great Britain, Latter-day Saints are used to centennial and sesquicentennial observances of this, that, and the other event in Church history. What about elsewhere in the Church? I was a missionary in France and French-speaking Switzerland during the sesquicentennial year of the publication of the Book of Mormon in French, but I don’t recall any reference to that; certainly there was no significant celebration or I would have been aware of it. How about anniversary celebrations of locally significant history in other areas of the Church (I don’t mean any missionary-influenced 24th of July celebrations, but observances of events local to a mission)? I would be very glad to hear of any such events you’re aware of, in the comments.

In 1950, the Church acknowledged the 100th anniversary of Erastus Snow’s mission to open Scandinavia. The First Presidency sent their greetings and blessings to the Scandinavian Saints as follows:

May 15, 1950

To the Saints in Scandinavia

Dear Brethren and Sisters:

In this Jubilee year, we rejoice with you, that the Lord inspired his servants, a hundred years ago, to send the restored gospel to the Scandinavian countries.

Long remembered should be the day that Erastus Snow, an apostle in the Church, and his companions arrived in these lands bearing the everlasting truth. They offered the people truth and light and power. They came with the authority of the priesthood by which holy ordinances could be performed.

We cherish with gratitude the memory of the steady succession of faithful, devoted missionaries, who, despite lawless persecution, often culminating in imprisonment and physical violence, have labored to spread gospel knowledge in these countries. Their work forms a notable chapter in the history of the restored Church of Christ.

We have in equal affectionate remembrance the tens of thousands of courageous, truth-loving men and women who have accepted the new-found truth. Many of these have come to the wards and stakes of Zion, there to become valuable citizens of the Kingdom of God. Others, who remained in their homelands, have courageously and proudly held the gospel banner high. For them we are thankful.

There is a measure of grateful pride in our hearts as we recall the progress of the Lord’s work in Scandinavia. It has been watched over, often miraculously, by the powers of heaven.

You do well to celebrate the gospel events in your countries during the past century. But, ever remember that the most acceptable celebration will be to live fully the teachings of the precious gospel, as a witness of the goodness of the restored truth.

Remember also that this year should mark a renewed effort by missionaries and members to bring to others the knowledge that the Lord has restored to earth, and which we have found sweet.

We testify to you and all the world that God, the Father, and His son, Jesus Christ called Joseph Smith to be the instrument to restore the gospel which had been corrupted through long centuries of apostasy. The gospel in its fullness will yet cover the earth. Be of good cheer and much faith!

We are grateful for you; we bless you in the authority committed to us; and pray that the Lord, through His Holy Spirit, will ever be with you, to guide and comfort you on the journey of life that you may be prepared for the great glory of the celestial kingdom.

Your brethren in the Gospel,

George Albert Smith
J. Reuben Clark, Jr.
David O. McKay
The First Presidency



6 Comments »

  1. The centennial was definitely a big deal in Scandinavia. Issue after issue of the Skandinaviens Stjerne featured historical information and news about local celebrations. The June 1950 edition had a portrait of Erastus Snow on the cover. This letter was published in the August 1950 edition. (“Kære søskende! I dette jubilæumsår glæder vi os sammen med eder over…”)

    Comment by Amy T — August 15, 2013 @ 1:24 pm

  2. Thanks for that link, Amy — I should have run this past you before posting, knowing that you’ve spent some time with the Stjerne.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — August 15, 2013 @ 1:37 pm

  3. As someone whose maternal line is dominated by Scandanavian ancestors, this was nice to read.

    I especially liked the touching line that ends the letter:

    [We] pray that the Lord, through His Holy Spirit, will ever be with you, to guide and comfort you on the journey of life that you may be prepared for the great glory of the celestial kingdom.

    Comment by David Y. — August 15, 2013 @ 2:06 pm

  4. My 3G-grandparents joined the Church as part of those earliest efforts in Denmark. They married on the boat on their way to join the main body of Saints. I don’t know that I could accurately count the thousands of souls touched by the Gospel because of their sacrifices. My cup runneth over.

    Comment by Chad Too — August 16, 2013 @ 11:29 am

  5. Interesting balance between remembering those who sacrificed all to come to Utah, and those who made perhaps a greater sacrifice to remain in their homelands. I wonder if this is a particularity of the era.

    Comment by The Other Clark — August 16, 2013 @ 4:57 pm

  6. The saints in Odessa, Ukraine have had two celebrations I’m aware of commemorating the first missionaries / baptisms in that city. They had one in 2008 for the 15 year anniversary and one in May this year celebrating the 20 year anniversary. My husband and the 3 other missionaries who opened that city are planning to visit in 5 years for the silver anniversary.

    Comment by mahana — August 19, 2013 @ 5:28 pm

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